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Freda Payne Sings Ella Fitzgerald in a FREE staged reading of
ELLA FITZGERALD, FIRST LADY OF SONG
at Page to Stage Festival at the Kennedy Center,
Saturday August 31. MAURICE HINES Reads the Stage Directions!
(l to r front) William Knowles, Maurice Hines, Freeda Payne,Wynonna Smith, Brynn Tucker, and Roz White (back) Greg Holloway, Yusef Chisholm, Tom Wiggin, Carolyn Griffin
Maurice Hines with Brynn Tucker and Freda Payne
Carolyn Griffin and Maurice Hines
Maurice Hines and Brynn Tucker
Freda Payne with Yusef Chisholm
Freda Payne with Music Director William Knowles
Music Director, William Knowles
MetroStage participated in the 12th annual Page to Stage Festival at the Kennedy Center with a FREE staged reading of Ella Fitzgerald: First Lady of Song, book by Lee Summers, conceived and directed by Maurice Hines. On Saturday August 31 at 8pm on the Millennium Stage at the Kennedy Center MetroStage presented a staged reading featuring Freda Payne as Ella Fitzgerald, directed by Maurice Hines. Mr. Hines also read the stage directions. He and Mr. Summers also read some of the musician roles, especially those of Chick Webb and Ray Brown, who played important roles in Ella’s life.
In the play Ella, her cousin and traveling companion Georgiana, and her manager and jazz impresario Norman Granz tell her story both backstage and onstage. From a homeless street dancer to winning amateur night at the Apollo Theatre at the age of 15, from headlining with Chick Webb and his Orchestra at the Savoy Ballroom to performing Live at the Cote D’Azur, from discovering she could “scat” to mastering a new art form called “bebop,” this is the fascinating journey of a legendary artist. It will feature Ella’s most famous songs accompanied by three of MetroStage’s renowned musicians.
Freda Payne, iconic singer best known for her gold record “Band of Gold,” grew up listening to Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holliday. She reprised her role as Ella, which she originally played at the Crossroads Theatre in New Jersey in 2004. Maurice Hines conceived of this project as a result of the time he spent with Ella backstage in Las Vegas, hearing her tell stories of her life. At MetroStage Maurice has choreographed Cool Papa’s Party and won the Helen Hayes Award. He also directed and choreographed Josephine Tonight. He will be seen performing his autobiographical show Tappin’ Through Life at Arena Stage this Nov-Dec.
Actors also in the reading were Roz White as Georgiana, Tom Wiggin as Norman Granz, Wynonna Smith as young Ella and Frances (Ella’s sister) and Brynn Tucker as young Georgiana with accompinament by William Knowles at the piano, Greg Holloway on drums and Yusef Chisholm on bass.
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